God’s Covenant, Part 7 – The Temporal Nature of Everything Created

B-Providential events represent change

Although God never changes, His creation does most certainly undergo many changes, and we as human beings as part of this creation change with it. If there is anything that can be said about the character of nature, it is that nature is nothing but change. It is also a fact that though creation does change that it never changes God in any way, or, in the way He has determined to do anything. This is certainly true concerning Gods Covenant.

God is the One who affects change within the created order of nature. Since God and nature are two distinctly different things that coexist together there is and must be a most harmonious relationship between the two. For us who are but mere creatures change is everything when it comes to that which concerns our existence. But with God, change means nothing in terms of His existence. This is why the faith and focus of a believer should always be upon the God who made us, the God who never changes, either in His nature or in His ability to overcome those things that we are affected by in this world and in our life. When we think about Gods Covenant, we must think about it in terms of the reality of the unchanging nature of its design, while at the same time being aware of the nature of change that occurs within creation in its coexistence with it. There is an end in view to the covenant that all change and all events of life and the world do not alter, but merely serve as the means God uses toward the accomplishment of it.

It is actually according to God’s covenant that much change is brought about within the created order of things. This change does not happen by itself but is brought about through direct intervention by God in the affairs of men and of the world. This is a spiritual intervention wrought by the most high God that translates into changes in the world surrounding the lives and affairs of His covenant people. A great deal of change that comes to pass in the material realm is also due to the presence of evil in it. Contrary to what the scientific community would like to think there is no such thing as an evolutionary change for the better bringing positive progress within nature. The truth is quite to the contrary however, for the presence of sin in the world brings corruption and decay. The presence of sin in the world tends toward chaos rather than progress. God keeps and directs nature by His power so that it remains for the purpose He intends. If left to itself, nature would come undone with or without the presence of sin because nature has no self sustaining power in it. God upholds creation by His power for in Him do all things consist (Col. 1:17). The only preserving influence that exists in the world is what God exerts through His intervention in these things. It is within the coexistence of nature and Divinity that this process occurs.

All change that is currently happening in nature is due to Gods superintendence of it, completely apart from what any man does. Even the evil of certain creatures within the created realm are part of nature too, though they possess the quality of intellect and volition unlike inanimate nature. Take Job for instance; Job was an Old Testament believer under covenant relationship to God (Job 1:1-5). Without the knowledge of any particular spiritual opposition being prepared against him, Job was assailed by way of accusations made against his character (Job 1:6-12). This being so, providential trials beyond anything humanly imaginable were foisted upon righteous Job. The incredible thing about this was that these troubles were most immediately at the hand of another creature, one spiritual in nature and high in rank before God (verse12). But what is absolutely clear in this instance is that the power to inflict natural disaster upon Job and his family came from God through the indirect means of this creature. The power used was of God, but there was a limit put upon the power used that came from God too. Later on, God revealed the truth of His power and the control of it to Job concerning nature and its operations (Job. 38:1-13). God “fixed” or, set a “limit” on every aspect of nature and its operation (verse 10). This is true of both animate and inanimate creation, for notice what else God does through His ordination of nature and its functions, He uses it to deal with wicked creatures (verse 13). God sets a limit on them and their actions too, and He does this in the maintenance of His covenant relationship with His people. In the end, Job was not destroyed, indeed none of the people of God are ever destroyed by the events of life, even if they physically die. “Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). In the end it is the wicked and their wickedness that are destroyed.

The acts of God that He brings to pass in the world always appear to us to be entirely successive in nature, and so they are in a relative sense according to time and space. But the reality of it is that God is not changed in any way by them. We are the ones changed by providential events that occur within space and time, events that represent experiential change. It is important to be clear on this matter under consideration even at the expense of tediousness. The reason for a meditation upon this theme is that a tendency exists within sinful humanity to judge God in our minds based upon experiences of change, like in the case of Job. That is to say, our minds tend to conjure the idea that if we have undergone some sort of adverse change in our life through an evil experience, that it necessarily means that God has undergone the same thing too, by His not preventing it. Maybe there is a superficial acknowledgment of the superior motivation of our covenant God, but how to reconcile our experiences of deep trial or pain with them is not always at hand. This is also the reason why unbelievers always accuse God of being deficient in duty concerning the presence of evil in the world. They suppose that God is insufficient to accomplish the good, or, that He Himself is not good for failing to uphold it. This mentality is a crass, free-will exalting view of reality, one that infects the minds of those who when they view or experience evil circumstances, they conclude such things. God made it clear to Job that this is not true concerning the negative experiences he endured (Job 40:6-8). God’s judgements are righteous and no one can judge Him in any other way.

God’s judgements are upon all men in this life before any one of them departs into the next where the final judgement is executed. God makes and keeps covenant with His people in this present life because His judgements concerning them are settled in eternity. The judgements of God that He performs upon the wicked who are outside of His covenant are settled too, even if executed now. These judgements relate to each other and to God in this way. An example of this interrelationship is seen in the great flood upon the earth. God destroyed the ancient world entirely in Noahs day in the interest of preserving His covenant people. There were only but eight people saved at that time by this world altering event. But it obviously had many more people in mind who were yet future to these people. And if this was what God deemed necessary for the preservation of His covenant people and plan then it is exactly what He brought about. The providential acts of God in reference to these world altering changes at any particular time in the course of history are all done for the same covenantal reasons (Gen. 8:20-22).

This same theme continued in that God delivered His people according to His covenant which He remembered, while they wasted away in the land of Egypt in bondage to sins tyranny (Ex. 2:24,25). In the course of His deliverance God performed many mighty, nation altering deeds in the form of ten plagues cast upon the Egyptians. The culmination of these events came in the final overthrow of Pharaoh and his army when, God delivered the Hebrew people in the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, which is nothing less than spectacular. This is what God does in the remembrance of His covenant (Ex. 6:5). But there is another side to this truth too, for there is also a time when God revised His dealings with the same nation out of respect for the covenant based on a further consideration of its character. This is the overall rejection of the same nation God once delivered, a rejection for its sin and apostasy, in the pursuit of the salvation of the remnant elect believers within it. Through a transition within the covenant God maintained the end for which it was designed (Heb. 8:7-13). God dealt with the sin and apostasy of that nation who came out of Egypt and did away with it. God did this through many providential events which lead to the complete destruction of their nation. In doing this, God had previously decided to not remember something about the people of His covenant which He intended to renew. These are the sins of His individual covenant people, those for whom God always intended to save eternally (Heb. 8:12). The tumultuous overthrow of Israel for its national sins, while at the same time saving His people, both Jew and Gentile alike, are all events and changes comprehended in the single covenant of God (Heb. 13:20).

The covenant of God takes into account the fact that this is a world full of evil and suffering. This is due to it being a fallen world, a world under the curse of God because of sin that has entered into it. Yet, it is through the circumstances that God providentially brings upon the world in the things He brings to pass that His will for His covenant people are accomplished.

The problem of evil in the world is always a perplexing reality for it represents change for the worse. People struggle over the presence and reality of evil in the world, but few, if any view themselves as the source of the evil. Sinners live their lives in a self-centered focus on their present happiness or woe, usually based on material prosperity or poverty. But sinners commit sin and that is a true change for the worse in this world. Sinners fail to understand that it is a future rather than a present happiness that is most desirable for them in this life. Therefore, these same people sin against God now in the present, then rail against Him for allowing the evil into their lives. God’s people struggle to understand how God allows evil too. The godly know God to be good and to hate evil, yet, He ordains what He hates, then He judges and condemns it. God will punish evildoers in due time, and He assures us of that in His word (Deut. 32:35). All this is relative to God’s covenant.

There is a reason for the presence of evil in the world. Certainly God could have made a world without evil but that did not happen because He did not intend it nor prevent it from happening. The fact is that evil is a reality within this world that God made good at the beginning. The entrance of sin did not nullify Gods intentions in any way. Instead, evil serves as a means to a greater purpose in Gods overall covenant plans. God says “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Is. 45:7). This does not mean that God is the originator of evil in any sense of the term. Rather, it means that evil as a means of calamitous change in the created order is in His domain to do with as He pleases. In a world that changes simply because it is a world that is created, evil brings much change to those who live in it, especially those who are the perpetrators of it. The change that evil brings appears irrational, illogical and without any redeeming purpose whatsoever. Of course, sin is a principle that is quite opposite to God, to sin against Him who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things makes it truly an irrational act. But change, even change from evil always represents some meaning in the true metaphysical sense of reality. It means something for man to fall from fellowship with His Creator through rebellion. But it also means something for God to redeem some of these rebels through His covenant plan. It also means something for God to reprobate many who have sinned against Him, and this too is according to His covenant plan. Both of these find their specific meaning in the covenant scheme of God which He already has worked out decreetively, providentially, salvifically, and eschatologically in eternity.

All of these things relate directly to the subject of Gods Covenant. It meant something for God to bring a flood upon the ancient world that existed in Noah’s time. It also means something for God to bring fire upon the present world to destroy it at a future time. The apostle Peter presents us with an apologetic argument for the promise of Gods certain judgement, in the face of what seems to be a never-ending history of evil associated with unbelief on the earth (II Pet. 3:1-4). The atheist who scoffs at Gods word today says “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” Peter shows that there is specific meaning behind the patience God displays in the apparent delay of His dealing with the sinning world. Peter does this in reference to the flood of Noah’s day, something the modern atheist denies ever happening (II Pet. 3:5,6). But this is willful denial on their part. Just as sure as God brought that judgement upon the world at that time, He will bring an end to this world too (II Pet. 3:7). But why does God wait to bring both of these events to pass, why does He allow wickedness to go as He does generation after generation while His people suffer? Peter gives the answer for he says “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (Verse 8). God does not wait a thousand years to bring His covenant promise to pass, nor any other length of time, for it is man that waits upon God and not He upon man. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Pet. 3:9). The Judgement upon the world does not come until every covenant child, every one of the elect is brought into it and is saved! This is the meaning behind the patience of God. Any concept of faith that reasons wrongly about this is one that is based on mere sensory perception rather than the objective word of God.

It is a fact that all men and women are born sinners and enter this sinful world estranged from their Creator. The covenant of God affects all men and women who are born into the world either in one way or the other, whether they know it or not. All people on the earth are either the objects of Gods covenant mercy, or they are not, there is no middle ground of neutrality between this reality whatsoever. Sinners who live apart from Christ seem to live in a sort of peaceful coexistence with each other on the surface, but Scripture makes it clear that they are enemies of God (James 4:4). As such, sinners are not at peace with God, nor are they with each other. “Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). This is why the world is full of evil, war and destruction. The basis of this peace that sinners have is their agreement with each other as worldlings, indulging each other in their sins, and making excuse for them in their judgements of each other according to the standard of the world. The light that the world enjoys while being at odds with their Maker is one that destines them for total destruction in the end. “Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled — This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.” (Is. 50:11).

The people of God are born into this world being sinners themselves too, walking with the world in sin as enemies of God. But Gods covenant mercy saves His people from their course of personal destruction, justifying them in the name of and on account of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1,2; Rom. 5:6,8). This is a change that God brings to His people which translate into a different kind of peace, for it is based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ. For those who are in Christ there is peace with God and with men. This is what was intended in the declaration of the heavenly host at Jesus’ incarnation when they said, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). What is meant by this saying is that God is at peace with men who are the objects of His good will, that is, those for whom Christ comes to reconcile. The change which Gods covenant peace brings to the Christian has the exact opposite effect than on the world, for they are stirred up to react against it (Ps. 2:1-3). The world fights in opposition to God and His people desiring their demise. But what does God do about this for “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.” (Verse 4)? As long as God is at work in the world fulfilling His covenant plan there will be change and flux, disturbances of every kind, for every sort of evil is at work in opposition to His providential work of mercy toward His people.

Consider this important truth about time and events: men live but a few short years, six thousand of them have come and gone, with billions of people inhabiting the planet. Couldn’t God have created them all at once, then separated them according to what their eternal destiny had already been determined to be and been done with it? Of course, He could have but what meaning would there have been in all this, for it most certainly would not negate one iota of reality concerning change within the created order. All this would have done, is to shorten time and with it reduce Gods covenant intention concerning the establishment of His kingdom. We dare not speculate or pontificate on why God did or didn’t do this or that thing without Biblical warrant (Deut. 29:29). It was most certainly revealed in Gods word that Jesus had to come in space and time, to redeem people born in space and time, with a salvation wrought in space and time, that is then applied to them in space and time (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4).

Events, whether they seem good or bad that God brings to pass in time and space affects men according to what they are as creatures. They also have eternal significance in them. Change brought about in reference to God’s creatures are the effects of change that pertain to their nature as created beings. Let us for a moment relate this concept to the subject of salvation concerning human experience. In Gods work of regeneration, if we set aside for the moment the issue of righteousness in justification which is a declarative act, human nature itself is never changed by anything God does in this to a person. A transformation of life is what take place in those who are born again even though the term “new creation” is used in Scripture to describe it (II Cor. 5:21). Yet, even though a reborn man is still the same person that he was, what he is has changed changed dramatically. Being born again is most certainly an experiential thing, it produces profound change in the individual in which it is wrought. In regeneration, God applies the benefit of what Jesus accomplished redemptively (justification) in space and time, to someone who receives it in space and time (regeneration). Men who lived before the cross were saved this way, and men after the cross are saved this way too (Rom. 3:24-26). God’s covenant may be fulfilled within space and time historically, but unless He and it had transcended space and time it could never be brought to pass effectively.

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